Already in trouble with the law, Providence mob enforcer and drug pusher Richard (Ricky Blue) Dion dug himself even a deeper hole with authorities when rough treatment of a gambling debtor and drug customer sent him running to the FBI 20 years ago. The 52-year old Dion served five years in prison on federal racketeering and narcotics charges from the 1990s and was back in front of a judge this week for trying to kidnap a man suspected of robbing a fellow New England mob associate.

Dion and Rhode Island real estate mogul Frank Zammiello were arraigned on three misdemeanor charges (assault, conspiracy & disorderly conducted) connected to a December 2017 accosting of Rhode Island Department of Transportation employee Danny Branca outside his office in attempt to get Branca to spill details on the boosting of $500,000 in cash, jewelry and valuables from Zammiello’s mansion months earlier. The 67-year old Zammiello is close with retired New England mafia don Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio and has had friendships with a number of his predecessors. Both he and Dion have pled not guilty and are out on bond awaiting trial.

A former cop, Dion went to work for Patriarca crime family captain Edward (Little Eddie) Lato as a drug dealer and mob muscle in the early 1990s. Lato, currently locked up for shaking down Rhode Island strip clubs, spawns from the Patriarca’s Providence wing. According to court records, Dion acted as a collector for Lato’s gambling and extortion rackets and dealt cocaine and Vicodin in a drug business.

In 1997, the feds were already in the final stages of bringing a racketeering case against Lato’s crew and had surveilled Dion making pickups from Lato’s sports book customers and shakedown victims when they were approached by a local gambler and addict named Bobby Atamian. Around Thanksgiving of that year, Dion allegedly physically assaulted Atamian for being late on a gambling debt.

An angry Atamian contacted the FBI and told agents he could set Dion up for them by making controlled purchases of cocaine and pills from him. Atamian admitted frequently buying those drugs from Dion and the feds, eager to build a stronger case, took him up on his offer.

Over the next several months, Atamian wired up and made 500 grams worth of cocaine buys and paid for a number of bulk shipment Vicodin purchases. The cocaine was bought in 100 gram installments. When Dion was indicted along with Lato and others in 1998, he had additional narcotics-trafficking offences tacked on via a separate indictment. Dion got out of prison in 2003. Lato, 71, was imprisoned again in 2011 for racketeering and extortion and for the past two years has been the focus of a cold-case murder probe by federal and state law enforcement.

Today, Dion manages Oxford Investment Corporation, the proprietors of the famous Tillinghast Mansion. Two years ago, Oxford Investments Corp. bought the historic mansion which dates back to the 1700s for 1.6 million bucks and turned it into a drug clinic offering Suboxone treatment to combat opioid dependency.

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